28 Oct: Welcome To Harvard

The life of Harvard University – the oldest institution of higher learning in the US – officially began on 28th October, 1636 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony appropriated £400 for its construction.

It;s fair to say the first few years of Harvard’s existence were not a success, featuring whippings, poisonings, and way too little beef and beer for the students’ liking.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the university got its name; look into why early students had to learn Hebrew if they wanted to graduate; and discuss why Benjamin Franklin thought all Harvard students were “blockheads”…

Further Reading:

• ‘Harvard’s History and Mission’ (Harvard University, 2022): https://hds.harvard.edu/about/history-and-mission#:~:text=After%20God%20had%20carried%20us,it%20to%20posterity%3B%20dreading%20to 

• ‘A History of Harvard University’ (Best College Reviews, 2022): https://www.bestcollegereviews.org/history-behind-harvard-university/ 

• ‘History of Harvard University’ (American History: 2019):


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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2022.